Bring back the old Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) -- the sweat-stained one obsessed with developers. Today's Microsoft is killing Windows Mobile.

On Monday, Mr. Softy opened submissions for its forthcoming Windows Marketplace for Mobile, reports. Good, right? Sure. Unfortunately, Microsoft is encouraging coders to get creative by offering four Microsoft Surface units -- a flatscreen, touch-sensitive PC built into a table -- as prizes.

Four. Tables.

Seriously, Microsoft? You have $30 billion in liquid investments lying around the bank, and all you can offer is fancy furniture? Please tell us you're joking.

To be fair, Mr. Softy isn't the only smartphone maker to go the American Idol route in trying to woo developers away from Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iTunes App Store. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is on its second such contest. The difference is that The Big G is offering cash money for good work -- $250,000 to the top winner, and thousands more for runners-up and category winners.

The timing couldn't be better. Apple and AT&T (NYSE:T) just decided to boot all iterations of Google Voice from the App Store, as they did with tethering options last year. Developers could soon tire of seeing useful software barred from the iPhone. Where will Windows Mobile be when they do?

Wake up, Mr. Softy. Windows Mobile is a serious player in smartphones, but you're acting as if you're already Nokia (NYSE:NOK), the current market leader. You're also acting as if Apple, Palm (NASDAQ:PALM), and Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) pose no threat. But of course, every single one of them does.

You need developers to fight the good fight. This is no way to win their loyalty.

Get your clicks with related Foolishness:

Start investing today -- just $7 per trade with Scottrade. Or find the broker that's right for you.